My dining room table is covered with cookbooks and old issues (sniff) of Gourmet magazine (love those Thanksgiving editions!). All are open to various recipes I have made in the past or want to try for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. For a few evenings now I’ve had to gather the stacks and move them so we can eat dinner. The books then quickly return to spread out again as I make my menu and shopping list. So many tempting choices for this one festive meal ... why can’t Thanksgiving be eight days long like Hanukkah?
I love trying creative twists on traditional favorites. Cranberry sauce lends itself well to experimenting. Cooked or raw, spiced or simple, cranberries are amazingly versatile and it’s always fun to mix in different flavors and textures.
Something new in my fridge are quinces that I picked up on impulse at the market. I haven’t cooked with quinces before and decided it was time. Quinces are in the same family as apples and pears, but unlike those the quince needs to be peeled and cooked first before eaten (according to what I’ve read, roasted, baked and poached are all good methods). The quince is hard and bland when raw, but when given some heat it transforms into a soft, floral, delicious fruit and the flesh becomes a rosy pink blush (they are high in pectin, as well, so I may try making quince jam this fall!).
When simmered in apple cider, the chopped quinces became fragrant and sweet and I could easily have stopped there and spooned some over pancakes. But I wanted cranberry sauce, so I poured in my fresh cranberries, some honey and maple syrup and started stirring. The lovely pop of cranberries soon began, and as they bubbled away a jewel-toned sauce emerged. I tasted a bit and was pleased with the results – tart with just the right touch of sweetness plus some added texture from the softened quince.
This is a quick sauce to make and cranberry flavor shines. In addition to your Thanksgiving table (or your turkey sandwiches), this would be terrific adorning a cheese plate.
Cranberry Quince Sauce
Makes 2 cups
2 quinces, peeled, cored and diced small
1 cup unfiltered apple cider
12 ounces fresh cranberries
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon maple syrup
In a medium sized sauce pan, combine the diced quince and apple cider and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the quince pieces are soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add the cranberries, honey and maple syrup and increase the heat to medium. Stir often and let cook until it thickens into a saucy texture, about 10-15 minutes. You’ll hear the lovely pop of cranberries! Watch closely to make sure it doesn’t start to stick or burn and lower heat if necessary. I like to make sure some of the cranberries stay whole for added texture. Remove from heat and let cool. Keep in the fridge for up to a week.